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JP Election Brief: It's here!

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Portal:Judicial elections

March 1, 2012

by: the State Court Staff

Welcome to the first JP Election Brief! Every Thursday, Judgepedia's State Court Staff will examine events in the world of judicial elections across the nation. Make sure to use Judgepedia's Election Central the rest of the week as a hub for all your judicial election needs.

Filing deadlines

  • Wednesday, February 29th: Filing deadline in North Carolina
  • Thursday, March 1st: Filing deadline in Arkansas

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice race


Two candidates square off in debate

Two out of three candidates for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court participated in a debate this Tuesday. The forum was sponsored by the Christian Coalition and as such, featured a large number of religious-themed questions. Roy Moore was also questioned about his former term as Chief Justice, from which he was removed from the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.

Moore was removed in 2003 for refusing to take down a monument of the Ten Commandments at the state courthouse following an order to do so by U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson. Moore reiterated his position, which he contends people misunderstood at the time: he believes that Thompson's order was illegal, since it forced Moore to violate his oath to the Constitution.[1]

During the debate, both incumbent Chief Justice Charles Malone and Moore agreed on the effectiveness of prison ministries, since "the only way prisoners could reform was through a higher power.[1] They also agreed that Governor Robert Bentley's proposed funding cuts in 2013 were untenable. Where the candidates differed was on their view of campaign contributions, since Malone has refused to take money "from special interest groups, plaintiffs' groups or business groups".[1]

Reduced spending in Supreme Court campaign

This race is showing a major decrease in early campaign spending, marking a strong difference from previous years in Alabama. In 2006, one race for the state Supreme Court holds the record for "most expensive judicial campaign in U.S. history." This year's Republican primary race for Chief Justice has garnered only $1,140,000 in contributions, a far cry from the campaign in 2006 where a single candidate spent over $2 million on his own. Moore has cited the poor economy as a cause of the low spending, stating, “Part of it is same reason we’re having problems with the court system. There’s not as much money flowing out there and people are more conservative with their money. I think people are holding it.” Candidate Charles Graddick pointed to campaign finance reforms that required frequent reporting and blocked contributions to multiple PACs. Graddick told the press, "I’ve heard people say that that has kept some people from getting involved because they don’t want their name out there." At this time, Graddick has raised the most funds, receiving $540,333 in contributions.[2]

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In the News

North Carolina candidates file for election

North Carolina

North Carolina: It's official. North Carolina incumbents and judicial hopefuls have lined up for the 2012 primary elections. Since the filing period opened on Feb. 13, 251 judicial candidates have filed with the State Board of Elections. Of these candidates, 48% (121) are running unopposed.

Some of the more notable races include:

The filing period officially closed on Feb. 29 at noon. The primary will take place on May 8.[3][4]

Ohio primary next in nation


Ohio: Republican presidential candidates are not the only ones preparing for next Tuesday's primary election in Ohio. Below are the appellate court candidates participating in the primary election on March 6, 2012.

Texas primary tentatively scheduled


Austin, Texas: The date for the Texas primary is still up in the air, though a tentative date of May 29, 2012 has been set.[5] The date for the primary has been pushed back multiple times, caught up in the disagreement over the new districts adopted in Texas.[6] The primary was originally set for Super Tuesday on March 6th, however challenges to the newly drawn districts pushed the primary back to April 3rd. The challenges continued, which made the April 3rd date not possible.[5] The newest redistricting maps, released this Tuesday, have not yet been challenged. If they remain unchallenged the primary will finally take place on May 29th.[7][8]

Montana judge rules on limiting campaign donations


HELENA, Montana: U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell ruled in favor of the state last week, upholding the ban on direct corporate contributions to campaigns. Lovell also plans to remove two of Montana's clean-campaign laws due to their attempt to regulate and restrict political criticism. He said that these aspects of the laws appear vague and unconstitutional. In the meantime, the judge has granted a request blocking the laws' enforcement until he is able to rule fully on the matter.[9]

Last week's decision concluded one of three lawsuits filed by the American Tradition Partnership (ATP), who are trying to overturn a variety of state campaign finance laws and regulations.[9]

Attorney General Steve Bullock was happy with Lovell's ruling. He commented that the ATP's lawsuits are a "concerted effort by out-of-state corporations to dismantle our election laws and undermine the democratic process in Montana." Though content with part of the ruling, Bullock will still fight for the preservation of the state's clean-campaign laws

"I look forward to showing at trial how Montana's laws governing truthful campaigning are needed and fulfill their purpose. Montanans deserve accuracy -- not distortions -- from their candidates for public office."[9]

The attorney for the ATP, Jim Brown, said his clients are also pleased with part of the ruling. According to the group, blocking the enforcement of the clean-campaign language is a step in the right direction. Brown is optimistic that Judge Lovell will change his mind in the future when it comes to monetary limits on campaign donations. In a statement, he said, "We believe that Judge Lovell has vindicated free speech and association in Montana. This (ruling) will allow people and corporations in Montana to speak (on campaigns) ... without fear of prosecution in the 2012 election."[9]

March 2012

Below is the election calendar for the month ahead. Note: As mentioned in this article, the Texas primary has been tentatively scheduled for May 29, 2012.

Arkansas judicial elections, 2012Oregon judicial elections, 2012Ohio judicial elections, 2012Texas judicial elections, 2012California judicial elections, 2012Idaho judicial elections, 2012Montana judicial elections, 2012Alabama judicial elections, 2012Utah judicial elections, 2012Illinois judicial elections, 2012Louisiana judicial elections, 2012Missouri judicial elections, 20123.12calendarfinal.png

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